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I wouldn’t hesitate to call myself a confident person. For the most part, I can handle myself like a normal human being in social settings, I don’t have any glaring insecurities that come to the forefront of my mind, and I’m not afraid to speak up in a situation that warrants it. That being said, I am an absolute pussy when it comes to actual confrontation.
I don’t mind discussing things with someone, but as soon as someone gets heated or intense, I tend to shut down. Most of the time, it’s because I literally just don’t care enough about the topic or the person to put that kind of emotional effort into the conversation, and when other people feel things it tends to make me uncomfortable.
I’d just rather go with the flow than make a huge deal about something in most situations. Recently, however, I found myself in a situation that required me to do the exact opposite of what I’m normally comfortable with.
I just had my second annual evaluation at work last week, and I had to go to battle for a massive pay raise with a company that didn’t want to pay me shit.
I was so desperately uncomfortable throughout the entire ordeal that a large part of me just wanted to nod my head at the penny for penny raise they offered me and get the fuck out of there. But I didn’t. I held my ground, even though I also peed myself a little bit.
Now, some of you may be thinking that this really isn’t that difficult of a situation. People negotiate for more pay every single day; it’s not that big a deal. That’s where you’re wrong. I was sitting at the opposite end of a table from three men, all at least fifteen years older than me, telling them what they offered to pay me wasn’t good enough.
Is there anything more uncomfortable than discussing money? Why is it so awkward to talk about? It’s like going in there and trying to talk about pooping. We all have it in common, it’s a necessary part of life, but it still can be weird to chat about. Talking about money is normally considered rude, or at least a bit of a faux pas, so talking about it in depth is strange.
I sat in my Interview Dress that I break out once a year and I wiped my sweaty hands on my chair as we discussed the new role I’d taken on, the extra responsibilities I’d been handed with my last promotion, and my growth in general. I knew they’d probably offer me a raise and I knew it wouldn’t be enough, so I’d come prepared with a range I thought was acceptable and all my reasoning as to why I should be paid more than a slave wage. Even with all my mental preparation and the fact that I’m an educated and mostly capable human being, it was still really fucking awkward.
It was near the end of the interview. My supervisor was wrapping things up, happy to have gotten through another evaluation without something being thrown at him, when I blurted out this sentence: “I’d like to revisit pay before we finish.” Nothing crazy, right? Wrong.
It was like I’d dropped the atom bomb. All three men looked at me with their mouths open like dead fish, as though they were just now realizing that I knew perfectly well that I deserved more than they were offering. They expected me to be a good little girl and run back to my desk, clutching my evaluation in gratitude that no one yelled at me.
I didn’t do that, even though a big part of me wanted to. I then launched into my spiel about why I should be paid more, complete with statistics and a running list of my accomplishments, as well as presenting a range I thought would be more appropriate.
They still stared at me like I’d grown another set of ears, but they listened. When I finished, my boss told me he was impressed with my prostitute-like sales pitch of myself (not his phrasing) and said they’d go about rewriting the suggested amount into my contract with HR. I accepted those terms. Then I thanked them for their time, walked outside, and immediately burst into tears. A victory? Sort of. .
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